A Taste of Spain in Ithaca

"This tortilla slice is one I ordered at a restaurant in Spain." Sierra Guardiola
10/10/2019
by Sierra Guardiola

Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? That’s what my housemate and I decided when we chose breakfast as the theme for a group dinner we were hosting. As soon as we decided this as our theme, I had the idea of making a favorite dish of mine from my study abroad semester in Spain – tortilla. Tortilla is an egg and potato dish that you can think of as an extremely thick omelet. It’s usually served cold, either alone or as my señora Mercedes would sometimes make for me, on a loaf of bread as a sandwich (a very thick sandwich!). It’s not served as a breakfast food in Spain, but given its similarity to an American omelet, I figured I would introduce it to my friends as a breakfast dish for our group dinner. You can find it offered in tapas form at Spanish inspired restaurants like Just a Taste on The Commons in Ithaca.

The full tortilla that the author made.

Before I left to come back to America, Mercedes spent one morning teaching me how to make tortilla so I could enjoy it at home and think of my time in Spain. We spent the morning prepping the potatoes and reminiscing on the semester and where the time had gone. She then took her time to go through with me step by step of how to make tortilla saying each step “It’s easy.” She was determined I would be able to do it on my own so I could continue to enjoy this little taste of Spain. It was my absolute favorite dish while I was there (ask almost anyone and they will tell you the same) and I was thrilled that I would be able to show my family and friends back home how to make it.

Memories are hard to hold tight forever. They stay there but they can fade and contort, often slipping away more and more year after year. I already find myself losing some of my fondest moments in the sea of other memories that occupy my brain. But one thing that always brings me back to my time spent in Spain is the food. Very rarely do I get the taste of authentic cooking like Mercedes prepared, but certain foods do take me back. Preparing tortilla in my college kitchen, imitating her actions that she taught me that day in May made me feel like I was transported back for just a second.

Although the tortilla I made for my friends was nowhere near the level of hers (and it never will be because she is the most wonderful cook and has been making this dish for more years than I’ve been alive) it still brought a smile to my face and a warmness in my heart. It may be years before I eat tortilla again in Spain with Mercedes but for now, this recreation that she so lovingly taught me will suffice as a glimpse back into my life spent abroad.


Sierra is a senior journalism major at Ithaca College. She is currently a freelancer for Hudson Valley Magazine and can also be seen in Real Simple. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching Parks and Rec or exploring the many hikes in the Ithaca region.